The mother-daughter relationship is unique. It may be the most rewarding, yet challenging relationship of a woman's life. A mother's love can make her daughter feel on top of the world. Equally, a mother's disapproval can plunge her daughter into the depths of despair. If your mother is habitually disapproving of you and the choices you make, your relationship is bound to suffer, which could also affect her bond with your children. Dealing with maternal disapproval may be difficult, but with time, effort and patience it's possible to change things for the better.
1. Accept Your Mother the Way She Is
Acceptance is the first step toward dealing with maternal disapproval. It's unlikely that your mother will change. She may have treated you this way your entire life, and those deeply ingrained behaviors are difficult to stop. Look instead at how you react to her diapproval. Make sure you're not being overly sensitive or passive-aggressive. Consider if your mother is trying to help, rather than judging you, suggests Marie Hartwell-Walker in the article "Understanding and Managing your Controlling Mother" for "Psych Central." If you can accept her comments as coming from a place of love and concern, you are less likely to be bothered by them.
2. Focus on Yourself, Not Her
Your mother's opinion of you should not define you. Constant disapproval from her reflect her own insecurities or inadequacies. Perhaps she is jealous of the career opportunities you have if she was always a stay-at-home mom, or holds more old-fashioned views about raising children than you do. Maybe, she feels that she has no place in your busy life but doesn't know how to tell you this. She may be lonely and want attention. Perhaps she is simply a negative person who thinks the worst of everyone in her life. Focus on being the best version of yourself you can be, and let this define you rather than her disapproval.
3. Learn When to Keep Quiet
You may be able to avoid confrontation and stress by keeping the parts of your life most likely to be criticized by your mother to yourself. For example, if she disapproves of your parter, or disagrees with the way you are raising your children, tell her politely but unequivocally, "I'm sorry, but I don't want to have this conversation with you right now." If your mother won't accept this, or continues to express her disapproval, remove yourself from the situation, suggests Hartwell-Walker. Tell her "I love you, but I'm not happy with how you're talking to me at the moment. I'm going to go now, and we'll talk later when we've both had time to reflect." You may be temped to yell at her, but try to stay calm and communicate with respect.
4. Reach Out to Others
Don't rule out outside help to deal with your mother's disapproval. Turn to your spouse, trusted friends or family members who have your best interests at heart and will help you create a better relationship with your mother. A support group or professional therapist may be helpful if you have been dealing with your mother's disapproval for several years, or her behavior toward you verges on emotional abuse. A mother-daughter therapy session may help you both reach a better mutual understanding if your mother is willing to cooperate, suggests relationship columnist Elizabeth Bernstein in the article, "'I'm Not Your Little Baby!' Calling a Truce in Mother-Daughter Conflict" for "The Wall Street Journal."
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